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Volume VII
Issue 21
August 6, 2001
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This Week In Zinda

  Please Welcome Zindina To Zinda Magazine!
  Why 7th of August is The Assyrian Martyrs' Day?
George Kiraz & The Syriac Digital Library
AUA at Marbella: Part V - "Sunburnt"
  Zowaa Leader Denies Assyrians Election Victory In North Iraq
KDP Arrests & Tortures Assyrian Farmer

Assyrian National Congress Press Release on 7th Assembly
Conference of Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party in Sweden

  A Scandal Magazine
Father Akbulut & Eichstatt University's Shalom Prize
Lausanne Who?
Protests Against Lausanne
Syriac Digital Library
Original Songs
What About The Assyrian-Canadian Athletes?

Assyrian Martyrs Day Commemorations in Chicago
Hugoye Journal Examines Women in Syriac Tradition

  A Sentimental Journey: Part IV
  Iraq's Ancient Past Gradually Disappearing
  August 7
  Massacre & Genocide
  Earliest Map & the Yesdgerd II's Massacres
  The Simel Massacre



Zinda Says


Zinda magazine has traditionally been a place where readers worldwide are able to learn about historical
subjects and political happenings, as they affect the Assyrian nation.

While we continue to provide you with accurate and timely news and information, we realize that we need
to address another important facet of our nation: the social issues which our people and the youth in particular face every day living outside of our traditional homeland.

Today, Assyrian youths are being raised bi-culturally, which can raise many poignant and confusing issues
while trying to "be and think Assyrian" and amalgamate into another culture.

Zinda magazine would like to introduce a new column to its readers: "DEAR ZINDINA". "Zindina" is a first
generation Assyrian who is living outside the Middle East. The column will welcome any question regarding
social issues our youth face today e.g. career development, relationships at home, in office or with
friends, etc. This is the ONLY place in Zinda magazine where a reader can post a question anonymously. All
questions sent by Friday at 5pm will be addressed in the following week's issue.

We trust that this addition to the magazine will interest our readers and open them up to another mindset in which to better understand ourselves in Diaspora. In gaining a better understanding of our future audience, we can better convey the importance of maintaining our heritage in a bi-cultural environment.

Please send your questions to DEAR ZINDINA at zindina@zindamagazine.com.

Zinda Magazine



The Lighthouse



Assyrian history is replete with the martyrdom of thousands who were massacred for the sake of their beliefs, religious or national. Clearly, too, the number of Assyrians massacred before August 1933 especially during the period of World War I is far greater than the number killed in Simel. This raises the question why Assyrians have zeroed in on the August 1933 tragedy over all others. More specifically, what motivated the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) in 1970 to designate the 7th of August each year as the "official" Assyrian Martyrs Day.

The rationale for selecting this particular date over several alternative ones forms the central motif of my booklet, 7th of August, The Day of Assyrian Martyrs - Symbol of the Nation’s Immortality. Here are some of the considerations.

1. The elements and trappings of nationhood typically include a flag, a slogan, an anthem, a monument to the unknown soldier (or martyrs), heroic names and legacies. The date of August 7th is a rallying symbol expressing the maturity of Assyrian national and political awareness. It underlines the importance of their national entity, and in some situations making the ultimate sacrifice for the Assyrian nation, as was the case in August 1933. It is worth noting that, at the same period, i.e., in early 1970’s, at the peak of national consciousness, a national flag, an anthem and April 1st were declared national symbols.

2. The tragedy of Simel is relatively recent, and it serves more effectively than previous massacres the contemporary ideology relating to the Assyrian nation and its politics. This is consistent with a principle of political science which holds that the emphasis on contemporary events is a better than older historical ones as a rallying point for national zeal and awareness.

3. Most of the national movement figures of 1933 were alive until recently. In addition, many eyewitnesses survive to this day. This first-hand attestation is not only more reliable, but also more powerful than events which are recorded in books or preserved as oral history. Assyrian nationalists of the second and even of the third generation have been personally moved by the remembrances of those who lived in the eye of the storm.

4. The last three decades has seen the emergence of a number of Assyrian political parties and nationalistic organizations. Like all political entities, these new organizations needed to be invested with acts of heroism and examples of supreme sacrifice, as a means of fortifying their resolve. Still vividly in the memory of many, Assyrian political parties found the tragic event of 1933 to be a timely, and most suitable symbol for the support of national aspirations, no matter the cost.

5. The Simel massacre (and its contemporaneous Assyrian national movement) has spawned a plethora of books and other documentation in Assyrian, English, Arabic, Russian and Farsi. This unusual amount of writing served to increase awareness of the event, and eased the way to elevating its national symbolism. Worth mentioning among the many works on this subject are Mar Shimun Eshai’s The Assyrian Tragedy (author ‘Anonymous’ at the time of publication); Malik Yacu’s Assyrians and the Two World Wars, and Yousef Malik’s The British Betrayal of Assyrians. These particular works are all the more significant because they were authored by individuals who were considered leaders of the Assyrian national movement of 1933, and who remained highly visible several years after.

6. The Simel massacre and its high celebration is unique in another way. For the first time, this event was framed by the Assyrian national movement in terms more apart from religious considerations than was ever the case in previous Assyrian tragedies. While the old leadership possessed strong allegiance to the church and the tribal system, underneath there were nationalist embers. It seemed only natural that such a budding national movement would inspire patriotic fervor, propelling the people to the next stage, including political parties and national organizations.

7. The August event killed thousands of Assyrians, and resulted in widespread looting and the obliteration of farms and entire villages. Obviously such savagery has a major physical component. But the ripple effect was far-reaching, with psychological, political and legal consequences. From the point of view of the Iraqis, it led to characterizing Assyrians as a mutinous, renegade and alien minority, one which had migrated from Turkey only to be a disruptive British tool (a fifth column) in the newly-independent country of Iraq. In turn, this Iraqi attitude translated into a series of unfair laws whose inequities have had to be borne by ensuing generations of Assyrians. A particular onerous example is the problem of obtaining the certificate of Iraqi nationality, a difficult task for all Assyrians and even more so for any known follower of the Mar Shimun. Ironically, the inherent bias of such laws towards Assyrians played into the perpetuation of Simel as a watershed event, and its consequent echo on Assyrian national consciousness.

The foregoing provides a justification for selecting August 7, 1933, as the Day of Assyrian Martyrs. At the same time, efforts should be made not to allow one event to overshadow the many others which have claimed thousands of Assyrian lives. With the passage of time, massacres of olden times become shrouded in the clouds of history, unless we the people refused to abandon these sacrifices. Having said that, it is understandable for the morale of the nation that the focus should be on one event with a specific date. Simel symbolizes all of our other tragedies as well, and our national aspirations. The AUA was right to declare it our day of mourning and of national pride.

Aprim Shapera



The Assyrian community faces an issue as serious to our national identity as the US Census 2000 issue. The Syriac Digital Library, endorsed by Zinda Magazine, needs careful consideration so that a few years down the road, we do not find that we have sold our heritage with our own hands. We cannot afford to support a project that is uncertain in its goals and confused in its breadth. It brings the seeds of considerable underlying danger. In the case of the US Census issue, we found ourselves having to defend a position that had been eroded through efforts made while we were napping. When we finally realized the extent of the damage done at the US Census Bureau, our only choice was compromise. The situation we face now with regard to our heritage and identity is similar. In the following few paragraphs, I will lay out the danger as I see it from the vantage of six months of familiarity with this issue. You may ask why I did not air my reservations earlier. I did not think that any groups outside the small academic circle that works closely with the Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox Church would support such a project. Now the situation is changed: George Kiraz has won endorsement from Zinda Magazine, and he is making the rounds of conventions speaking about this project (and his encyclopedia project) in the hope of raising funds. He is scheduled to speak at the San Jose AANF Convention.

Let me begin by stating, without reservation, that I find Dr. George Anton Kiraz a personable, intelligent, enterprising and ambitious young man. Born in Bethlehem, of Harput ancestry, his family of merchants has nurtured many generations of supporters of the Western Assyrian Church, at the time of his grandfather called the Assyrian Apostolic Church. He himself is a Deacon of the church in Teaneck, New Jersey, the site of the seat of Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, the very same cleric who succeeded (1999) in changing the name of the St. Mary's Assyrian Orthodox Church in Worcester to "Syrian" at the expense of the Harput families who had built that church community during the 1920s.

George received his graduate education at Oxford University: he has an MA in Syriac studies. He studied with Sebastian Brock, the well known anti-Assyrian Syriac scholar quoted on various web sites, where he was a fellow graduate student with Susan Ashbrook Harvey, now the Syriac specialist at Brown University. Instead of continuing in Syriac studies, George got his PhD in computer science, hence his title of Dr. and his high profile involvement with Syriac digital fonts, the digitalization of Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox melodies of the Beth Gazo, the digital Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, and other works. Nothing in all this array of activity mentions Assyrians.

Whatever the native language of George's family may have been in Harput (many urban Assyrians in the Ottoman empire had dropped the vernacular Assyrian in favor of Turkish and Armenian), his first language now is Arabic, increasingly the language of the Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox Church. Trained in Church Syriac from an early age, when he is not speaking Arabic or English with community members, he can also converse in Church Syriac. When pressed on his ethnicity, he calls himself Palestinian.

The emphasis on the background of the person who is proposing the Syriac Digital Library is important because this project grows out of his personal concerns and ambitions. It is not a university project. It is an academic project in a very loose sense. If, God forbid, something happened to George, the project would either fall apart or more likely, revert to shelter wholly under the umbrella of the Archbishop in Teaneck, New Jersey, a possible next Patriarch of a church that, for the past eighty years, has tried to erase the name Assyrian.

The institution that sponsors the Syriac Digital Library is Beth Mardutho: the Syriac Institute, an organization headed by George Kiraz. Its Board of Directors are not mentioned in the literature that is provided. What are mentioned prominently are the following:

  • a letter of endorsement from" His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church" for the Syriac Digital Library.
  • hopes to connect Beth Mardutho to St. Aphrem Theological Seminary in Ma'arrat Seydnaya (the main locale for training Bishops and other clerics of the Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox Church)
  • plans to digitalize books (articles, pictures etc. ) in Syriac, Arabic, Turkish, English, German and other languages from any place and any time. These will be available to any and all on the internet under the aegis of "Syriac."

The Implications: The Identity Issue

We Assyrians with our origins among the five tribes of the Hakkari or in the Urmi/Salamas plain generally are confident of our secular identity as Assyrians. We accept, in fact glory in, our identity as Suryaya/Assyrian. For decades, those who call themselves Suroyo did the same. Then in the aftermath of the Genocide, when all of us were weak and driven into close contact with each other, we began to see differences among us: church differences, dialect differences, and most of all, social differences embodied in the relative integration into the larger cultural setting of urban dwellers and the independent lifestyle of mountain dwellers. Secular Assyrian identity, embodied in people like Naoum Faik, Ashur Yusuf and others in the Suryoyo community, splintered as the urban dwellers linked with the Church institution almost exclusively. The spoken Suryoyo, preserved for generations in Tur Abdin was prohibited by the Church from becoming a written language. Instead Church Syriac was promoted. On the initiative of the Church, many Suryoyo (Siryani in Turkish) are coming to regard "Assyrian" as a created term and the domain of the Church of the East.

Today, the people who come under most pressure to abandon their ancestral name and find it hardest to maintain their Assyrian identity are the descendants of victims of the Genocide in Turkey, the Suryoyo, who belong to the Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox Church. Whether in the Middle East or in the US, they join with other Assyrians to achieve our goals. They are members of the Assyrian American National Federation.

Of the original Assyrian churches on the East Coast, gradually all but one has been forced to abandon the term Assyrian and adopt Syrian/Syriac. The one remaining church, in Paramus, N. J., retains it name thanks to the legal training of David B. Perley. Another four churches in Sweden also have insisted on keeping the name Assyrian. The other five churches in Sweden, and all of the other churches in Europe and the Middle East follow the dominant church culture in the Orthodox community and use only the term Syrian or more recently Syriac. In 1999, the Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox Church changed its name to the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Here is where we have a problem with the Syriac Digital Library: the church name is now the name of our language, in the West, during the Christian period. If this were the sole problem, the confusion of church name and the Church Syriac as a language, we might be able to find some resolution. But the identity issue has further ramifications:

  • the Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox Church is the sole church whose endorsement has been sought for this project. What about the other Syriac based Christian churches?
  • to what extent does this Syriac Institute fall within the folds of the patriarchal robes?
  • If the Syriac Digital Library will include materials in all languages "from any place and time," what happens to Urmi's Zahrira d Bara? Does this too become Syriac instead of the vernacular Assyrian that it is? What about Naoum Faik's Beth Nahrain: The Assyrian Newspaper? Does this too become Syriac when the editor went to great lengths to keep it Assyrian? Examples abound. What about the Synhados, what about Bar Hebraeus?

Suggestions for Improving the Project

No one should discourage an ambitious young man. But let us be clear: This is a person who will not call himself Assyrian nor should we expect him to have our interests at heart. We can benefit still from mutual aid where our interests converge. Through this project, there is barely minimal convergence at present. We should not support the project as it is. This project needs much honing to better serve our community. This is the prime concern. Here are some suggestions.

  • if this is a project intended to preserve and make available materials related to our culture, why not start with the digitalization of Syriac (only) manuscripts - hundreds of them are falling apart in monasteries and in western libraries. They are not available to any one save a few who ought not to be handling them in their present physical condition anyhow.
  • - if this is a project with a clear goal, why not seek funds from the multitude of sources beginning with the National Endowment for the Humanities. Preservation of a culture as rich as ours deserves and will get attention IF the project is well defined and the goals and methods of achieving the goals are understood.
  • To how many people will the digitalization of books already in major libraries be of any use? Maybe a hundred. But if the printed books that are less available, in private monastic and church libraries were digitalized, at least they would be preserved and disseminated to scholars who are present have no opportunity to examine them at all.

The project scope is far too broad and unclearly defined. The initiators of this project, and its church and academic endorsers, if they do not have a hidden agenda, need to think through their project goals and scope carefully.

  • Exactly what defines the books (and articles, pictures and so forth) that they wish to digitalize? Where do they draw the line between what is Syriac in the narrow academic sense and what is Syriac in the way that term is defined by the Syriac/Assyrian Orthodox Church and in the community at large?
  • Whom is this project going to serve? Are there layman who need to access the sermons of John Stylis, Michael the Syrian, Elyas of Nisibis? If so, some notion of the numbers of people whom this will serve will be needed. Scholars can get this material through inter-library loan.
  • Is the goal to make Church Syriac materials more easily available to scholars in digital form? This project fills that need but how much of a priority is this goal when we, in the Assyrian community have such pressing needs in education and preservation of vanishing materials?
  • Who makes the decisions on what will be digitalized? The donor of the $250? Not to our knowledge. Then who makes the decision?


These are among the leading questions any funding organization would demand to have clarified. We too should be asking these questions and getting clear, not obfuscating answers.

The goals and the methods as well as the institutional basis of the Syriac Digital Library remain far too ill-defined to merit support as is. Indeed, the chances are that this project could become a source of division rather than enhancement of our culture. To those who see the initial merits of this project, one can say, bravo for recognizing the need to make good use of internet capacity. But just because a technology is available does not mean we should leap into it carelessly. Perhaps George Kiraz will direct his considerable energies to re-examining this project as should anyone who is concerned with it. Take some time to examine how it can be enhanced to serve our culture and to bring us into cooperative arrangements. We cannot afford to divert funds from educational projects of real merit and long term benefit for something that is dubious in all but its superficial aspects.

Dr. Eden Naby
Harvard University



Part 5: "Sunburnt"

The Assyrian Human Rights panel included a presentation by Dr. Eden Naby Frye. Dr. Naby is a cultural historian of Central Asia (19th and 20th centuries), with admirable credentials. She holds a Ph.D. degree from Columbia University (1975), with her doctoral dissertation titled "Transitional Central Asian Literature: Tajik and Uzbek Prose Fiction, 1909-1932." In the ensuing years, she authored several articles concerning that region (about Iranians and Afghans, as well as about Tajiks and Uzbeks). In more recent times, Dr. Naby has turned away from traditional academic pursuits, and toward greater involvement in valuable Assyrian projects. These include the continued promotion of the David B. Perley Memorial Assyrian Fund (which collects materials relating to the Assyrians since the 17th century), and the establishment of the Mishael and Lillie Naby Assyrian Lecture Fund (commemorating her late parents). Both of these Funds are located at Harvard University. In addition, thanks to Dr. Naby’s efforts, other lecture funds have been established (at UC Berkeley, and at Columbia University). Her greatest challenge may lie ahead, if she elects to tackle it. I understand that Dr. Naby recently agreed to become Honorary Editor of the Assyrian Star, the wheezing publication of the Assyrian American National Federation. Such a titular position normally does not require hands-on involvement, but any advice she provides should be of help.

For the observations which follow, I relied both on my notes, and on the helpful notes of other auditors. If the remarks quoted are not an exact replication of the speaker’s phraseology, the reader should know that great care was taken to retain both the letter and the spirit of Dr. Naby’s presentation.

Dr. Naby focused on "the Assyrian identity crisis," and she attributed this condition to three principal factors. I shall touch on these in the following order: ONE, religious and secular factionalism amongst the Assyrians themselves. TWO, Kurdish denial of our Assyrian name in northern Iraq. THREE, anti-Assyrian propaganda disguised as scholarship.

- ONE -


According to Dr. Naby, one of the factors contributing to the "Assyrian Identity Crisis," is the disagreements about our name among the different churches and lay groups. Her explanation of this factor was somewhat brief. Dr. Naby was not entirely clear on the origin of the problem, though my notes suggest that she traces the current schisms to the days of the League of Nations, where various factions (Chaldean, Assyro-Chaldean, Syriac) failed to close ranks as one.

As another example of factionalism, Dr. Naby also referred briefly to the raging arguments which surrounded the Year 2000 census in the U.S. While it was not a part of her remarks, I was reminded later that Dr. Naby herself was one of the persons on the unity committee which asked the U.S. Census bureau to count all of us under the unitary rubric of "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac" (also known as the "slash-slash" approach).

- TWO -


According to Dr. Naby, another reason for "the Assyrian identity crisis," is the Kurdish denial of our Assyrian name in North Iraq. In support, Dr. Naby cited the following examples:

    1. A 1975 Report of the London-based Minority Rights Group (MRG);
    2. A statement by Abdullah Ocalan in the early 1990’s;
    3. The statement of an American military officer who worked in north Iraq during Operation Provide Comfort; and
    4. (d) The characterization of Margaret George as a "Christian Kurd" in a recent coffee table book.

      This segment of Dr. Naby’s remarks begs questioning from two standpoints.

      First, I am puzzled by the decision to zero in on north Iraq, but to remain silent about the rest of Iraq. To begin with, the Assyrians of north Iraq (i.e., the area currently under Kurdish control) comprise just 3% to 7% of the Assyrian population in Iraq. And even if we disregard the demographic tilt, surely the current Baghdad regime poses far direr threats to "Assyrian identity."

      It is true that news from the north is not always reassuring. Just recently, another distressing report of vigilante action has surfaced. Some of the details remain to be verified, but it appears that a 32-year old Chaldean Assyrian was beaten, summarily jailed, and denied visits by the Red Cross and UN personnel. According to his sister, the victim is accused of collaborating with the PKK (the Kurdish guerrilla group from Turkey), but she maintains that her brother’s major sin is to own a large tract of land coveted by the Kurds. According to some U.S. Assyrians, such lawlessness is carried out by elements of the KDP who use their feud with the PKK as a smoke screen to target Assyrians.

      But another aspect of life in the north needs to be mentioned in contrast to the rest of Iraq. In the north, schools have been opened (authorized by the Kurdish authorities, but administered by our people) using modern Assyrian as the language of instruction. This would be utterly unthinkable in Saddam-ruled Iraq. Incidents of arbitrary violence and intimidation are obviously a source of great anxiety, yet it is clear that Assyrians in the north still fare better than under the Orwellian order prevailing in the rest of Iraq.

      If one is to discuss regimes which pose the greatest threat to "Assyrian national identity," one is hard put to rank Saddam’s Iraq anywhere other than at the top of the list, with Turkey a close second. Inexplicably, both of these oppressors are ignored, while the "north" is not.

      Second, while there may in fact be significant "Kurdish denial of our Assyrian name in north Iraq," unfortunately the evidence offered by Dr. Naby does little to prove it.

      (a) The MRG Report of 1975 to which Dr. Naby refers was titled, The Kurds, and (as the title makes obvious) the sole concern of the study was the Kurds, not any other minority group in the area. Even so, the Report does refer to the solidarity of "Christian (Assyrians) … with their Kurdish neighbors … since 1961." In other words, the Report does not ignore the word Assyrian; it includes it. But even if it were otherwise, it must be remembered that the Minority Rights Group has produced dozens of Reports, each focusing on a different minority people. There is no reason to believe that the MRG, which enjoys an impeccable reputation for its accuracy and its commitment to human rights, is either obsessed with the Kurds, or that it is anti-Assyrian. Moreover, MRG Reports represent the best research effort of the MRG non-governmental organization. To use it as evidence of "Kurdish denial of our … name" implies that the MRG is just a mouthpiece for the Kurds, which surely Dr. Naby cannot mean to say.

      (b) Regarding the statement of Abdullah Ocalan, Dr. Naby herself identified him as the former leader (now in a Turkish prison) of the PKK. But the PKK is a political/guerilla group comprised of Kurds in Turkey, engaged in a struggle against the Turkish government. In other words, the PKK and its leaders are Turkish Kurds, not Iraqi Kurds. It is unclear why this would be pertinent to "North Iraq." If one wished to demonstrate "Kurdish denial of the Assyrian name in north Iraq," it would be more relevant to know what the two leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan have said on the subject, namely, Barzani (KDP) and Talabani (PUK). Dr. Naby does not offer any anti-Assyrian remarks by either of these figures.

    5. Dr. Naby referred to a U.S. military officer who lectured at Harvard University about his work in north Iraq, and in the course of his remarks the officer mentioned "Christian Kurds." During my visit to north Iraq in the early 1990’s, I visited the UNICEF office based in Dohuk. The head of that office was a Dutch woman who struck me as well-educated. Her important work included the coordination of humanitarian efforts by all the non-governmental organizations operating in the area.
    6. Notwithstanding her educated background and her significant job, I learned that this woman was unaware of the existence of modern Assyrians, much less their presence in her own area of responsibility. Like the U.S. military officer who spoke at Harvard, this UNICEF official knew about the presence of "Christian Kurds," but she did not know of Assyrians until I explained the matter to her. Since much of the north Iraq Assyrian population, such as it is, resides in Dohuk, the utter ignorance of the UNICEF officer in their midst is all the more astonishing. However, more than anything else, this would seem to say more about the failure of Assyrians in north Iraq to make themselves adequately known. While it is evident that both a U.S. military officer and a Dutch official at UNICEF were mistaken on the issue of our identity, neither of these individuals is Kurdish. In the absence of other evidence, it is unreasonable to interpret this as "Kurdish denial of the Assyrian name in north Iraq."

    7. Dr. Naby also refers to Margaret George, who was a member of the Kurdish resistance movement. Dr. Naby notes that in a coffee table book, Margaret George is identified as a "Christian Kurdish fighter". Dr. Naby must be referring to Susan Meiselas’ Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (November 1997), and in particular to Pages 254-5, where Ms George is remembered with several photographs, including a most elegant full-page one in her guerrilla garb. The book’s author is not Kurdish, but American. Among the dozens of books she has illustrated or written, this appears the only one about Kurds. There is no evidence to suggest that Meiselas is "anti-Assyrian". Frankly, it challenges common sense to suppose that one photo among hundreds in a 408-page book prepared by a Westerner represents evidence of a "Kurdish denial of the Assyrian name in north Iraq", even if the inclusion of the word "Assyrian" would have been a more complete identification of Margaret George.

In addition, this book’s BIOGRAPHY Section includes a six-line entry for Margaret George, where in fact she is identified as an Assyrian Christian (p.378). Also, the book’s GLOSSARY (pp.382, et seq.) includes ample entries not only for "Assyrians," but also for "Chaldeans" and "Nestorians." All of this is also evident by cursory examination of the book’s INDEX, which includes several page references for "Assyrians."



Most surprising to me was the third leg of Dr. Naby’s explanation for our "Assyrian identity crisis" -- what she called ‘insidious’ academic writing. According to her, the miscreants include Dr. John Joseph, Dr. Sebastian Brock, and "writings from Oxford University graduates, by scholars of classical Syriac and of Syriac Christianity." She compared this flock to "blind men who fail to see the entire elephant," contrasting these "myopic few" to scholars of superior knowledge of Assyrian culture and language, such as those "at the Universities of Helsinki and Toronto." Here, she was presumably referring to Dr. Simo Parpola (Helsinki) and Dr. Amir Harrak (Toronto). Respectfully, I disagree.

I personally consider Dr. Joseph a distinguished scholar, one who has spent his entire career on the religious histories of "Nestorians," "Chaldeans," and "Syrian Orthodox." His scholarship has rankled many modern Assyrians – especially Church of the East adherents – starting with his Ph.D. dissertation ("The Nestorians and their Muslim Neighbors," Princeton University, 1957). Dr. Joseph has maintained that there is no significant evidence to support the proposition that the modern Assyrians are the direct descendants of the ancient ones. But any ambivalence on this issue is anathema to many of his kinfolk, and his skepticism has spawned a cottage industry of Assyrian critics, each seeking to voice a greater outrage than the next.

While she considers Dr. Joseph a "myopic" scholar, she is incorrect to pigeon hole him among "the few" to hold this view. Quite the contrary, his doubts regarding the historicity of modern Assyrians is anything but unique. In fact, it is shared almost unanimously in the academic community, and the skeptics even include Harvard faculty who are personally known to Dr. Naby.

Dr. Joseph is a familiar whipping boy for a group of Assyrians displeased with his research conclusions, and his criticism is hardly new. As for the censure of Dr. Sebastian Brock, I admit to astonishment. All of his colleagues consider Dr. Brock the gold standard in Syriac Studies. He is a man of immense learning, a prolific scholar, broad-minded, and generous to a fault. He is in greater demand than any other scholar at international symposia. He respects the Assyrian modern identity, and he has been a friend to the Assyrian community in Britain. Dr. Brock is one of a few scholars in the field of Syriac Christianity who calls the Church of the East with its modern name "Assyrian Church of the East" when he refers to the modern period, and he is known to encourage his students (‘the new generations of scholars’) to do so out of respect for the adherents of that church. Indeed, Dr. Brock’s bona fides are further validated by the news of Zinda Magazine’s support of the Beth Mardutho fundraising campaign for "Project eBethArké: The Syriac Digital Library." In partnership with several universities, this project will offer on the internet thousands of texts previously unavailable. According to Dr. Brock: "To have all this material that is out of copyright collected together and made available in this way, would be an immensely valuable service, not only to scholars working in this and the many related academic fields, but also to the wider public and above all, to people belonging to the different Churches of Syriac tradition."

Frankly, Dr. Brock should actually be lauded as a great defender of Assyrian faith and theology. His article "The 'Nestorian' Church: A Lamentable Misnomer" (in Coakley and Parry (eds), The Church of the East: Life and Thought, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 78, no. 3, 1996, pp. 23-35) not only calls upon scholars to stop labeling this church "Nestorian", but also presents its faith as "Orthodox" and not heretical. His published positions in ecumenical meetings of Pro Oriente should further impress Assyrians as a defender of their faith.

In fact, Dr. Brock's scholarship is not only appreciated by Western academics, but also by the Syriac-speaking world. The Pope, at the request of the Maronites, decorated him as "Knight of St. Sylvester" (a great honor in the Roman Church). The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Zakka I bestowed upon him the "Decoration of St. Ephrem" with the rank of "Commander", the highest decorative rank that the Syriac Orthodox Church gives to non-clergy.

For all of these reasons, one would like to know of the specifics underpinning Dr. Naby’s criticism of Dr. Brock and his Oxford progenies.

In contrast to Dr. Joseph, Dr. Brock, and their acolytes, Dr. Naby has praise for Dr. Amir Harrak of Toronto University. Dr. Harrak is a Syrian catholic by faith, and an honorable man I have been privileged to meet on several occasions. He is not only affable, but a hard-working scholar who has been especially productive the past 15 years. In reviewing the long list of his articles, one comes across terms such as "Araméen," "West Syriac," and "Early Syriac Christian," but it would be a challenge to find the term "Assyrian" except in reference to ancient history (his specialty). In other words, Dr. Naby appears to hold him up for his contributions to the issue of historicity (linkage of ancient Assyrians to the moderns), yet I have not heard him speak on this, nor am I aware that he has authored anything on this subject.

Dr. Naby’s admiration for Dr. Parpola of Helsinki University seems to be avidly shared by a number of pop historians in the Assyrian community, even if his thesis raises eyebrows among his academic peers. I must admit that my comfort level (as a non-academic) with Dr. Parpola was severely tested after learning some of his positions. For example, in a presentation at the 1999 annual convention of the Assyrian American National Federation, Dr. Parpola declared that, in the final analysis, the Assyrian empire had "never been destroyed at all but had just changed ownership," that the Assyrian Empire "continued to live on despite the fact that the Assyrians themselves were no longer in control of it," and that "many features and dogmas of early Christianity were based on practices and ideas already central to Assyrian imperial ideology and religion."

In closing I would note that Dr. Naby, clearly an Assyrian devotee, recently declared in another forum that her specialty lies elsewhere: "I am neither an Assyriologist, an ancient historian, a Semitecist [sic], nor a specialist on Assyrians. My field is cultural historian of Central Asia in the 19th/20th centuries." One appreciates such candor, and this might even explain some of the factual lapses and non-sequiturs in her Marbella presentation.

But clearly, by virtue of her academic persona, Dr. Naby carries a certain cachet which obligates a greater degree of care in her pronouncements. "When the Doctor speaks, the audience listens."

Francis Sarguis

Good Morning Bet-Nahrain


(ZNDA: Sydney) In an exclusive interview with SBS Assyrian Radio Program last week, Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, Mr. Yonadam Yosip, denied Zinda's July 23rd report regarding the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party's election results. According to Mr. Yosip "no Assyrian won any elections by means of Assyrian votes in the municipalities mentioned in the report."

The area in Iraq, north of 36-parallel, is currently under the protection of the U.S. and British forces and receives economic support through the Oil-For-Food Program (UN Security Council Resolution 986) sponsored by the United Nations. A majority of the people in this area are Kurdish whose allegiance is divided between the supporters of Massud Barazani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the western areas and Jalaal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the east. The Assyrian Democratic Movement forces and majority of the Assyrian inhabitants are mainly located in the Barazani-controlled areas where the May 2001 Municipal Elections took place.

Based on the information received from the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, Zinda Magazine reported that several BNDP representatives won the Municipal Elections. The ADM supporters had boycotted the elections in reaction to the KDP's "lack of concern for the rights of the Assyrian people in this region". The ADM (Zowaa) candidates were not represented on any tickets. Mr. Yosip, in his interview notes that: "the individuals mentioned in the report were not voted in by Assyrians, rather our neighbors. No Assyrian has won any municipal elections through the votes of the Assyrians alone. These individuals are KDP-sympathizers and they were voted in by non-Assyrians." Mr. Yosip explained that "We did not accept KDP's stand on the rights of the Assyrian people and are still working on this issue to help our people".

Mr. Yosip also denied BNDP's reference to a meeting in Salah al'Deen two weeks before the Municipal Elections where Massoud Barzani had allegedly told the ADM leadership that "he or his group do not represent the Assyrian population in the region and the elections are free, democratic and open to all political parties operating in the region." Mr. Yosip commented that he was sitting inches away from the KDP leadership and no such information was communicated during this meeting.

Mr. Yonadam Yosip is also a member of the cabinet of the Kurdish Regional Government. The new cabinet elections will be held in September 2001.

In response to Mr. Wilson Younan's question during the radio interview last week, Mr Yosip explained that there exist close economic ties between the north and Baghdad due to the dependency of the rest of the country on the water and oil coming from the north, and in turn the food received from the Oil-For-Food program from the sale of the oil in Baghdad. Mr. Yosip also commented that the commercial transits continue operating between Iran and Iraq in the East - the area under the control of Talabani's PUK forces. Mr. Yosip also put in plain words that at this time the Kurdish factions in the North are discussing their future ties with the government in Baghdad.

According to the July 23rd report published in al-Zamman Newspaper, the PUK and KDP announced, in a joint communiqué, their commitment to the unity of Iraq and their readiness to "engage in a dialogue with the Iraqi regime to solve the Kurdish question". A clear indication of the weakening of the U.S.-backed Iraqi National Congress, an oppostion group to Saddam Hussei, the agreement was signed by both Kurdish leaders. It demands the government in Baghdad's respect for and endorsement of the laws and decrees passed by the Kurdistan Parliament in 1992. The communiqué is also viewed by observers in the West as closer cooperation between the two rival Kurdish groups. On July 15, Saddam Hussein during an award ceremony commented that ""We wanted our people in Kurdistan region...to deal with the events and circumstances, good and bad in details to reach a satisfaction of their own choice." Until this year, Saddam Hussein had severed all ties with the Kurds in the North who have aligned themselves with the other members of the Iraqi National Congress, an organization established to topple the government in Baghdad.

Two days before Saddam's speech, Iraq's education ministry announced that it was about to send three million text books to school children in North Iraq. Hussein Mohammad Kadduri, Head of the Ministry's Kurdish Studies Department, told Al-Iraq newspaper that the books will be delivered to Arbil, Sulaymaniya and Dahuk. The move was "testimony to President Saddam Hussein's interest in his Kurdish sons and their culture, including knowledge of the Kurdish language in teaching," Kadduri said.

In his final comments Mr. Yonadam Yosip asked his listeners "not to trust everything that is printed in the Assyrian media" and invited anyone to North Iraq to "witness the truth first hand…no matter whether you are a Zowaa supporter or not." Mr. Yosip also asked that the disagreements between two political parties, namely the ADM and KDP, not be interpreted as hostility between the Assyrian and the Kurdish people in North Iraq.



(ZNDA: Chicago) Last week, the Assyrian Information News Agency reported that Mr. Youkhana Yalda Khaie, 32, a farmer in North Iraq was apprehended by the KDP forces and according to the United Nations (UN) personnel held in solitary confinement in a KDP political office. AINA reports that Mr. Khaie was moved to Fermandy Prison in Duhok. His fiancé, during two visits on April 20 and May 20, discovered that Mr. Khaei had been "severely whipped in the face and legs with a wire cable by two KDP agents…badly scarred and unable to stand or walk." The AINA reports that the "extent of his beatings was so profound and disfiguring that Youkhana was removed from the prison for four days during an inspection by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) so that the extent of his torture would not be discovered."

Mr. Khaei and his family have denied any ties to the Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) a Marxist Kurdish group and a rival to Mr. Massoud Barazani's KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party). In a brief analysis of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khaei's arrest, AINA explains that "the predominantly Behdanani tribes of the KDP have conveniently used their blood feud with the Kurmanji tribes of the PKK to target Assyrian civilians literally caught in the crossfire. For its part, the PKK as it had similarly systematically done in southern Turkey, often enters an Assyrian village under cover of night and demands assistance by threat of arms. Fearing violent reprisals, unarmed Assyrian villagers are unable to refuse. Those villagers acquiescing to PKK demands then find themselves suffering violent attacks by KDP thugs the following day… The underlying motivation of this KDP policy is to heighten fear and intimidation of Assyrians so that they abandon Assyrian lands."

Zinda's sources in North Iraq indicate that smuggling of food and provisions to the PKK-dominated areas in northern Bet-Nahrain has become a lucrative enterprise for inhabitants of North Iraq, most of them having no political or social ties to this separatist Kurdish organizations. According to one such report Mr. Khaei, under intense torture, may have admitted to smuggling cigarettes to the PKK areas.

While KDP has arrested many of its own sympathizers in an effort to curb the smuggle of provisions to PKK, Zinda sources in the North explain that none have been tortured in prison to the extent that Mr. Youkhana Yalda Khaie has suffered. Mr. Khaie was to be married two weeks after his arrest.

For AINA's full report visit [www.aina.org/torture.htm]

News Digest


Assyrian National Congress
Stockholm, Sweden
July 1, 2001

The Seventh General Assembly of the Assyrian National Congress met in Stockholm, Sweden on June 29 - July 1, 2001. Assyrian delegates from sixteen countries, representing Assyrian associations, clubs and political parties, were in attendance. The congress received a large number of supporting and congratulatory E-mails, letters, and telephone calls from Assyrian organizations, foreign governments, friendly Iraqi opposition groups and prominent individuals. The opening ceremonies were attended by several members of the Swedish parliament and by the head and officials of the European Branch of Kurdistan Democratic Party.

In the closing session of the General Assembly, the delegates renewed their commitment to the short and long terms objectives of the Assyrian National Congress and declared their support to ANC's continuous work in the international arena, especially its work with several organs of the United Nations, and its efforts to defend the Assyrian identity and gain recognition for the Assyrians worldwide. The delegates appreciated the close relationship of the ANC with the Iraqi opposition groups and with the Regional Kurdish Government in Northern Iraq to further our national objectives in the homeland.

The Assyrian National Congress believes in democracy and pluralism. Therefore, the Assyrian United Front, the political arm of the ANC, will open a new dialogue with other Assyrian political entities to invite them to the Eight General Assembly of the ANC, the Assyrian parliament. The ANC will strengthen its relationship with all governments and Iraqi opposition groups. This relationship will be based on join efforts and mutual interests to bring about a united, democratic and federated Iraq. This is of benefit Iraqis, including Assyrian people.

The Seventh General Assembly decided to form an Assyrian World Confederation, to function as the social and educational arm of the ANC. This Confederation will consist of Assyrian social clubs and educational institutions worldwide. A large number of such entities have already affiliated themselves with the AWC. The congress also decided to establish an Assyrian National Fund based on ideas formulated at the Stockholm congress. To further the aims of the congress in the field of education, a special ANC delegation attended the 47th Assyriology Conference sponsored by the University of Helsinki in Finland on July 2-6, 2001.

The Assyrian National Congress, was formed on March 17, 1983 is the only logical way to establish a truly collective and democratic leadership for Assyrian Nation. The Seventh General Assembly strengthened the ANC's structural plan and furthered its national objectives. We call upon all Assyrians to support the efforts of the Assyrian National Congress. This by the Grace of God.

Assyrian National Congress
Stockholm, Sweden
July 1, 2001

The Political Bureau of the ANC published the following requests during the 7th Assembly from the Kurdish authorities:

1- A resolution to be adopted in Kurdish constitution pertaining to the recognition of the Assyrians and Assyrians as indigence people of that land
2- Creation of an Assyrian province (state) in the North with a full self-governing rights.

PB-ANC writes: "the above proposals are yet another step for Kurdish people and Kurdish authorities to prove to the Assyrians and to the world of their intention in creating a democratic federal system in the North. A democratic federal system should be for all its citizens including their major minorities. The Assyrian province (state) would recognize the Assyrians as an important minority of that reign with its full rights."


The following is a press release of the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party from Stockholm & London on July 6, 2001.

This years annual conference of Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party was held in Stockholm Sweden and London, England on June 30 ­ July 6, 2001 during the meeting of the 7th General Assembly of the Assyrian National Congress. Delegates from all eight branches of BNDP were in attendance.

The conference commenced with a minute of silence in honor of the Assyrians martyrs, including our party's martyr, the beloved brother Albert Okaro. Welcoming remarks were delivered by the President, Vice-President and Secretary General of the BNDP. Several reports from party branches and special committees were discussed freely and acted upon in a brotherly manner and in a most democratic atmosphere.

The conference deliberated on several topics included in its agenda, such as:
1- The overall situations of the Assyrians in the world.
2- The present situation in Iraq and the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
3- Party's relations with Assyrian political entities and the Iraqi opposition groups.
4- The work of the Assyrian National Congress and its quest to strengthen Assyrian unity.

The conference decided the following:

1- BNDP supports the idea of a united, democratic and frederated Iraq in which all segments of the Iraqi society will flourish and live in peace.
2- Total and continued support for the party's efforts in Iraq.
3- BNDP supports the programs of the Assyrian National Congress and its efforts to unite the Assyrians under a collective and democratic leadership. The party note with pride the establishment of the Assyrian World Confederation, the educational and social arm of ANC.
4- BNDP values the support of the Kurdish Regional Government, the Arab and Turkman political parties for the Assyrians in their quest to regain their national and human rights.
5- The conference thanks our compatriots in the 5th Branch of BNDP in Europe for their unceasing efforts to make this year's conference so successful.

The conference ended its meetings in London by appointing several committees to proceed with the implementation of its decisions. The BNDP Congress will be held next year.



In our last issue we reported that a series of Assyrian sports events were being held in Tehran, Iran. This information was based on a report by the Armenian AZG Newspaper. Last Friday the Assyrian Universal Alliance informed our office in California that the games are being held rather in Urmia, not Tehran. The event is hailed as the Tammuz Games. According to the same report more then 35 athletes from Dohuk (Assyrian Nohadra) & Arbil in Iraq and 37 from Armenia are participating in these games.

Surfs Up!


"Have you now denigrated to the level of a scandal magazine? What sources are you quoting with reference to His Grace Mar Aprim? How many people have you talked to that support His Grace and believe that he was the victim here. Do you have any facts to back up your assertion?

I truly enjoy the magazine, but this was an editorial comment, not a factual matter that can be corroborated."

Mark Jacob Thomas

Mr. Thomas is a Chicago law attorney (Mark Jacob Thomas & Associates, 11 S. La Salle Street, Suite 2800) whose advice is sought by local and national Assyrian organizations (i.e. Assyrian American National Federation).

Our reader refers to the "Sex, Lies, and Video Tape" article published in the editorial section of the July 23rd issue. The information regarding Mar Aprim's "Yasmin Affairs" was provided in an article published in the Chicago Tribune (see Zinda May 30, 2000). The information regarding Mar Aprim's meetings prior to the assassination of the late-Patriarch Mar Ishai Shimun is noted in the Public Records of The Trial Proceedings of The Assassination of His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII.


"We have been notified that YOUSOUF ABQLUT, the recently acquitted priest in Turkey, along with ISA GUTTE, another member of the Syrian Orthodox Church have been awarded the Shalom prize by the Catholic University of Eichstatt in Germany."

Association Assyrophile de France

At press time Zinda Magazine was unable to confirm this report.


"A few months ago, I emailed you some feed back about what a great job you are doing, and keep up the good work. I also asked you to give some background about issues you are reporting so your readers with any knowledge background can follow, comprehend, and understand the importance of the news you are reporting.

For example in this week's issue you have a report about renouncing the "LAUSANNE treaty". What is Lausanne treaty? Who signed it? What are implications to the Assyrian nation? Why should I care? Does this sound ignorant to you? Well the bad news is, that this is a well spread and common problem between your readers.

I realize this is a popular style of today's journalism in the U.S.; but there are bad motives behind this style, which don't apply, and shouldn't apply to Zinda. Therefore, I would like to ask Zinda again to educate public about issues they are reporting, since the resources to get education about different Assyrian events is very limited. Unfortunately the burden is on Zinda's shoulders for public education. Otherwise the whole purpose of reporting such events is defeated. Your time is wasted since you haven't reached your audience the way you have intended, and my time is wasted since I read something, without understanding of what I just read. You might think, that this will make a report unnecessarily long, and this is true if I already know about Lausanne treaty. In these cases maybe you can create a hyperlink on the word LAUSANNE TREATY for those of us who don't know about this subject, and explain this in a different area. Pretty soon you will have a library of such information, that people can use as a reference library."

Ashour Yadegar


"From July 21st through July 24th, 2001 the Assyrian/Syriac people organized a march to protest the seventy-eight (78) year old Treaty of Lausanne which affected our people severely. The Bethnahrin Freedom Party (GHB) organized this protest march. More than 180 people walked from Bern, before the Federal Parliament of Switzerland, to Chateau Rumin in Lausanne, where the treaty was signed. The trip was 102 kilometers and it took four days. The activists handed a letter to the president of Switzerland and all the party chairmen with the following demand from Switzerland:

Seventy-eight (78) years ago a treaty was signed in your country. In that treaty, which was called the Treaty of Lausanne, there were articles (articles 37-45) referring to the rights of the non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. While the rights of other minorities were honoured, those of the Assyrian-Syriac people were stripped away and these articles ignored. Therefore, we ask that the Swiss government put pressure on the Turkish government to uphold the Lausanne Treaty, which was also signed by Turkey, and to honour the minority rights of the Assyrian-Syriac people in Turkey.

The Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac Union (ACSU) has also sent letters with information and documents to all the countries who had signed the Treaty of Lausanne seventy-eight years ago. Those countries were Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia, and Turkey. The letters have been sent to the leaders of those countries and to the embassies of those countries in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Sweden."

Fikri Aygur
Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Union


"I was very glad to learn, in Zinda Magazine last issue, the project which concerns the creation of a Syriac Digital Library. This project is remarkable and very important for our Assyrian nation and for our Syriac culture. I congratulate you very much. I shall give this information to all my French friends. I shall be happy to bring my support and my collaboration to this magnificent project."

Dr. Ephrem-Isa Yousif


"Zinda please have some respect for our nationalistic Assyrian singers! I have a lot of respect for Walter Aziz as an entertainer but it's not fair to say "many other Assyrian musicians present the old sound with new CD covers"! The "many other Assyrian musicians" that you're referring to are artists who have devoted their life for our music. They became famous by singing "original songs" and not bunch of Arabic, Persian, or Spanish songs. Singers like Linda George, Ashur Sargis, Ogin, and Evin Agassi have so many beautiful songs that we've been listening to them for years.

Unfortunately, nowadays it's just the beat of a song that makes it popular.

We are forgetting the importance of lyrics and the message of a song. Songs like "Mirror of Deception" from Ashur or "Khazadeh" from Evin will stay forever while non-original songs will be forgotten soon."

Nahrin Jacobs


"How about the issue with the Assyrian Athletic Club Of Toronto??? How come everyone is ignoring the fact that the Assyrian National Champions of 2000 are intentionally ignored by the AANF in the upcoming convention in
San Jose?

Is it that Assyrian Canadians do not count anymore ?

Mr. Ashur Enwiya of the Athletic Committee with the support of the Federation chopped off the Outside-USA Assyrians Arm from the Athletic committee only after they won the championship in 2000 against a team that Ashur himself coached into the final!

Are you about to write about this DISCRIMINATION ????

How can these power driven people justify their actions?"

Layth Jato
Assyrian Athletic Club of Toronto

Surfers Corner


The 7th of August has been designated as a Memorial Day for Assyrian Martyrs. Although this observance is of a comparatively recent date, it has gained widespread acceptance among the Assyrian people. And this is justly so. Every nation needs to have a day set aside for the remembrance of those who gave their lives for the preservation of their cultural and ethnic identity. This is especially important for the Assyrian Nation, which has given so many martyrs in the defense of their national, cultural, heritage, and ethnic rights.

The following programs have been dedicated to the remembrance of the Assyrian Martyrs Day:

Tuesday August 7

11:00 am
Ribbon Cutting of the Assyrian Display
Main lobby of Thompson Building (State of Illinois Building)
100 West Randolph Street, Downtown Chicago

3:00 PM
Tribute to the Assyrian Martyrs Monument
Montrose Cemetery, 5400 North Pulaski, Chicago

7:00 PM
Special Martyrs Day Ceremony
Assyrian Social Club, 6313 North Pulaski, Chicago

9:00 PM - Midnight
Special Radio Program
Assyrian Night Star, on 1590, on your AM radio dial

August 6 - Friday 10, 2001
Assyrian Display
Main lobby of Thompson Building (State of Illinois Building),
100 West Randolph Street, Downtown Chicago

All Assyrian Radio & TV programs will have a partial program during their respected airtime

Joseph Tamraz
Assyrian American National Federation
Midwest Regional Director


Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute (http://www.bethmardutho.org) published today a special issue of its academic periodical Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies on "Women in Syriac Tradition" (Vol. 4, No. 2). The issue is available electronically on the Institute's home page, and in a printed edition available later this year. Membership to Beth Mardutho includes a complimentary subscription to the printed edition of Hugoye. To become a member, go to http://www.bethmardutho.org and click on membership.

The special issue contains four papers, two project reports, three book reviews, two conference reports, four conference announcements, and two advertisements. The issue honors Empress Theodora on her 1500th anniversary. Prof. Susan Harvey of Brown University, the Special Issue editor, explains "the editors of Hugoye decided to dedicate an issue to the topic of 'Women in Syriac Tradition', in an effort to situate Theodora's memory within a better understanding of the role women have played and the contributions they have made to the long history of Syriac tradition. The topic remains an understudied one, although important strides have been made in recent years."

The first paper by Michael Penn takes up the complicated evidence of the early church rule, the Didascalia Apostolorum, to demonstrate that in the third and fourth centuries widowed women held positions of significant prominence and honor in the Christian communities of the eastern Roman provinces. The second paper by Adam Lehto provides a careful reassessment of Aphrahat's presentation of women - both in history and in the church of his day - arguing for a substantially revised understanding of the Persian sage's position. The two remaining articles look at two prominent women from widely differing times and places. The third paper by Susan Harvey looks at the particular historiographical process by which Syriac chroniclers cultivated their memory of Theodora, Empress of Byzantium, over the centuries; the culmination of this process came in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries with the emergence of the legends that claim Theodora as a native Syriac Orthodox, daughter of a faithful priest who served her people despite her marriage to the persecuting emperor Justinian. The fourth paper by Avril Makhlouf takes up the longer trajectory of Syrian history by studying this important yet little-known (to western scholars at least) Maronite nun of the eighteenth century, Hindiyya.

In the short papers section, Karel Innemée continues to present reports on the conservation work that is taking place at Deir al-Surian in Egypt. George Kiraz gives the first report on the Syriac Digital Library project which aims to build the largest collection of books, journal articles, pictures, and maps on the Internet.

The Book Reviews section contains a review of Elizabeth Fowden's The Barbarian Plain: Saint Sergius between Rome and Iran (1999) by Kathleen E. McVey, a review of F. Trombley and J. Watt's The Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite (2000) by Jan J. Van Ginkel, and a review of Theodor Nöldeke's Compendious Syriac Grammar... [with] The handwritten additions in Theodor Nöldeke's personal copy (2001) by Lucas Van Rompay.

Two conference reports are given, one on the Syriac session of the American Oriental Society meeting (March 2001), and the second on the Syriac papers given at the North American Patristic Society meeting (DATE). Four forthcoming conference announcements appear in the issue.

For the first time Hugoye contains advertisements. ATLA Serials advertises its Digital Journal Project. Brill Academic Publishers announce a special summer offer on Syriac and biblical books, some at 50% and 75%. Parties interested in advertising in future issues of Hugoye may contact the General Editor at gkiraz@bethmardutho.org.

With this issue, Hugoye is now XHTML 1.0 compliant, using cascading style sheets. Readers using older browsers such as Netscape 4.0 or IE 4.0 may not see the formatting as intended.

The Journal is available electronically from www.bethmardutho.org.

Hugoye Journal



Part IV

Late in the fall of 1921, I ran into someone I had known in Persia-an Aissor.

Remember those dark little men who sat on the street corners in with shoe brushes? They also led trained monkeys through streets. These men are as ancient as cobblestones. They're Aissors-mountain Aissors.

One day I was walking down the street and decided to get my shoes shined. I went up to a man sitting on the corner in a wicker with the legs sawed off. Without looking at him, I put my on his box.

It hadn't gotten cold yet, but I was wearing a white rabbitskin and there were beads of sweat on my brow.
One boot had already been shined. I took off my cap.

"Shklovsky," said the man shining my boots.

"Shklovsky," he said, putting down his shoe brushes.

I recognized him. He was an Aissor named Lazar Zervandov, who had commanded a cavalry detachment of the Aissor army in northern Persia.

I looked around.

Everything was peaceful, except that the four black horses on the Anichkov Bridge were charging in different directions.

The Aissors lived in Mesopotamia, in the province of Van (eastern Turkey), and also in Russian Transcaucasia, around Dilman and Urmia. They're divided into the Maronites and Jacobites, who live in the area once dominated by ancient Nineveh, now the city of Mosul (hence the word "muslin"); into the mountain Aissors, incorrectly called "dzhelou" by the Persians (actually, that's the name for only one branch of the mountain Aissors); and into the Persian Aissors.

The mountain Aissors are Nestorians; that is, they don't recognize Jesus as God. The Maronites and Jacobites embraced Catholicism, but in Urmia, the ancient Christian, but heretical, souls of the Aissors were being pursued by missions of all denominations: English, American Baptists, French Catholics, German Protestants and a few others.

There were no missions in the Aissors' mountains. There the Aissors lived in villages governed by priests. Several villages form one branch-a clan governed by a malik, or chieftain-and all the maliks obeyed the patriarch, Mar Shimun.

The right to the title of patriarch belongs only to the branch descended from Simon, the brother of the Lord.
In January 1918, the Russian soldiers went home.

The Aissors' home was in Persia and even those who had come from Turkey stayed in Persia, because in Turkey they would have been massacred by the Kurds.

The Aissors formed their own army.

Even under the tsar the Russians had recruited two battalions of Aissors. Not all the Aissors went into these battalions; instead, they formed a guerrilla detachment under the command of Aga Petros, who was no one's fool.
This same Aga Petros I once took away from the soldiers of the Third Frontier Regiment when they were getting ready to bayonet him.

My friend Aga Petros! We will meet again sometime here in the East, for the East now begins in Pskov, but before it began in Verzhbolovo; now it goes uninterruptedly through India to Borneo, Sumatra and Java-as far as the duck-billed platypus in Australia! But the English colonials have put the platypus in a jar of alcohol and made Australia part of the West.

No, never again will I see Aga Petros, since I will die on Nevsky Prospekt across from the Kazan Cathedral.
So I wrote in Petersburg. Now the place ordained for my death changed: I will die in the flying coffin of the Berlin subway.

Aga Petros was a stocky man with an unusual chest, stuck out if on purpose and decorated with the freshly polished gold of Order of St. George, First Degree.

Aga Petros had shined shoes in New York and just possibly had a trained monkey around the streets of Buenos Aires.

In any case, he had been sentenced to hard labor in Philadelphia. Back home, he had lived in the mountains as a bandit. Then he was vice-governor for the Turks and thoroughly pillaged the province. Then he became a big man in Persia. One time he got mad about something, arrested the governor of Urmia, put him in cellar and let him go only when the shah gave him a medal.

He was the unofficial dragoman for our embassy and commander of the guerrilla detachment.

The Russian soldiers had gone home-vanished as completely as water into the ground. They left a lot of guns behind.

The Aissors were armed. The Armenians had organized into a national militia.

They started disarming the Persians. Old scores were settled.

The first time the Russian troops had pulled out of Urmia (in 1914), the Persians massacred the Aissors who stayed behind because they had been fighting for the Russians.

The Aissors had taken sanctuary in the American mission, nder the protection of Doctor Shedd. Bread was baked at the mission to feed the refugees. The Persians added ground glass and filings to the flour and the refugees died in droves. It was like rowing a bomb into a small pond full of fish.

The guerrilla detachment of Aga Petros intensified still more enmity of the Persians toward the Aissors. Since most of them came from other regions, they had nothing of their own and we didn't feed them.

In short, they looted.

The guerrillas walked through the bazaar in their pants made from scraps of calico and their leather sandals; each of them had a bomb tucked into his sash. The Persian women pointed them out to their children and said, "There goes death."

As for me, if I had been in Persia then, I would have butted into this fight on the Aissors' side.

And I don't know why.

Is it possibly because in Petersburg I'm used to seeing the Turkish cannons that stand by the Monument to Glory on Izmailovsky Prospekt?

The Turks would have certainly massacred me-on purpose, not by mistake.

During the withdrawal of the Russians from Persia, there had been a skirmish. The Persians attacked the last Russian troops to withdraw and the Aissors attacked the Persians.

Aga Petros (I've just thought of his last name-Elov) put cannons on Jewish Mountain, which is just outside Urmia, and wrecked the town.

The Aissors generally understand the importance of occupying the commanding heights.

The Persian Cossacks had fought on the side of the Persians. They had been trained by Russian instructors as support for the counterrevolution in Persia.

In these battles, however, they fought not as representatives of the shah, but as representatives of the nation.

The Persian Cossacks were led by Colonel Stolder, a man with much influence at the Persian court. The Armenians and Aissors were led by Colonel Kondratiev and the Russian officers and sergeants who had stayed behind to help form the new national armies.

Many of them are in Mesopotamia now. They're splashed all over the world like drops of blood on the grass.

The Persians were beaten. Stolder and his daughter were captured and then killed.

The disarmament of the Persians began.

This was managed with artillery-forty to fifty shells lobbed into every village.

The villages in Persia are made of clay.

About thirty thousand rifles were confiscated.

Then the Kurd Sinko said, "Mar Shimun, come and see me. I too want to surrender my guns."

The Kurd Sinko occupied the Kuchin Pass-between Urmia and Dilman.

The Kurds have never had a state: they live as families and tribes.

The families form tribes, each governed by a khan.

Sinko wasn't a khan by birth.

He ascended to the Kuchin throne by means of intelligence and cunning. He duped the former Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, who had hoped to win a Kurdish unit over to the Russian side, and managed to get rifles and even machine guns from him and thereby rise even higher.

Sinko duped us constantly. Because of him we lost the hay stored in Diza. He had promised to give us camels and then didn't. He wasn't at all afraid of us. He said that forty Kurds could drive off a whole Russian regiment.

Aga Petros often recommended attacking Sinko's tribe in the winter, because when you drive these people from their homes in the winter, they perish.

Sinko wrote Mar Shimun: "Come and take our guns."

Mar Shimun took three hundred horsemen with him and they rode the fine horses just stolen from the Persians; he summoned his brother, got in his carriage and they all went to see Sinko.

The convoy rode into Sinko's courtyard. Mar Shimun and his brother went inside the house.

The Kurds started climbing onto the roofs and the Kurds had rifles in their hands.

The Aissors asked, "Why are you climbing onto the roofs?"

And they answered, "Because we're afraid of you."

"But why the rifles?"

The Kurds didn't explain the rifles.

Mar Shimun's brother walked out of the house.

He was cursing and he said, "There was no need to come and see this dog. No good will come of it. Let those who value their 7 lives go home."

But they couldn't go home and desert the patriarch.

The Aissors stayed.

It's not I who tell all this, but Lazar, Petersburg bootblack, commander of a cavalry detachment and member of the army council-a Bolshevik by conviction.

Later he came to see me and drink tea.

He was calm. There was a meeting of Opoyaz at my place that day. Zervandov took off his heavy overcoat and sat down at the table. He drank tea. He refused butter because he was fasting just then. Then he turned to one of my comrades and said, "Look where I find Shklovsky!" To him, I seemed exotic here in Petersburg.

Lazar continued his story….Then Mar Shimun himself ran out of the house cursing.

The officer-instructor Vasiliev gave the command "To horse" and then from the Kurds on the roof came a volley of shots like a bell, then another volley; then machine guns opened up.

The horses reared, men shouted-complete pandemonium.

Those who could make it set off on the gallop, but most of them stayed where they fell.

Lazar lagged behind. He had a big horse, which took fright so he was the last to gallop away.

He saw the patriarch running, running in mud up to his knees.

Mar Shimun was running in the mud without a rifle.

On his chest near the shoulder a wound-blood.

A small wound-not fatal.

"Lazar," said the patriarch, taking hold of his stirrup, "Lazar, these fools have deserted me."

Lazar tried to get the patriarch on his horse. Just then blood covered his head and Mar Shimun fell back.

The Kurds kept shooting, shooting from the roofs.

Volley after volley, friendly as a bell.

Lazar urged on his horse. The remnants of the convoy made their way through Kurds armed with sabers. On the outskirts of the village, Lazar's horse was killed under him and he was wounded.

Another bootblack, the one who sits on Nevsky Prospekt across from the House of Arts and sells shoe polish, also got away-got away seriously wounded.

They rode to the next Aissor village and said, "The patriarch has been killed."

At first no one believed it. Then they saw the wounds.

They rode back to Urmia, collected an army of fifteen thousand men and set out. They hurried, but it's far from Urmia to the Kuchin Pass and the road goes through the mountains; it's far, too, from the pass to Sinko's village and all through the mountains.

They arrived at night.

They looked for the body.

They found the body of the patriarch.

Undressed, but not mutilated. The Kurds hadn't cut off his head, which meant they hadn't recognized him.
They were shooting, shooting from the roofs.

By morning, the Aissors had massacred everyone in the village.

But Sinko escaped.

He had scattered pieces of gold on the floor of his palace.

The soldiers rushed to pick up the gold and the khan escaped through a secret passage.

ar Shimun was of less than average height; he wore a fez wrapped in a turban and a cassock; on his chest he wore an old I Arabic crucifix, which he said dated from the fourth century.

He had red cheeks-a dark, rich red-the eyes of a child, white teeth and gray hair. He was twenty-six years old.
He always went into battle with a rifle in hand. His only I complaint was that the three-shot French Lebel rifles which we supplied to the Aissors were breechloaders: these rifles burned their hands when they had to use the bayonets.

He had a simple heart.

When the Russians were pulling out of Persia, he had asked us for rifles and cannons (we gave him about forty rifles), as well as 7 the rank of second lieutenant for all his maliks (chieftains) or else the right to confer the rank of second lieutenant; for himself, he asked an automobile.

Too bad we didn't comply.

Second lieutenant's epaulettes would have looked good on these men with their felt caps and their wide pants made from scraps of bright calico and tied with a rope below the knee; on this naïve and valiant army commanded by Mar Shimun, descendant of Simon the brother of Christ, those second lieutenants' epaulettes would have certainly looked good.

That's not Lazar speaking.

The Aissors were left without Mar Shimun.

The snow in the mountain passes is deep-up to a camel's nostrils.

But the snow had melted.

The Turks came through the passes and advanced on Urmia.

Colonel Kondratiev turned the Turks back with his Aissor and Armenian cavalry and took two battalions captive.

The situation seemed to have improved. Lazar complained to me about Aga Petros: "When you went to the home of a Persian, there you found already the men of Aga Petros. Aga Petros took much gold from Persia."

He complained further: "This Aga Petros was most interested in gold. He held a sector of the front and said that he had three thousand men; in fact, he had only three hundred men and the Turks broke through."

One Aissor cavalry unit was stationed in the mountains.

One morning the men went down to a stream to wash. On the other side of the stream they saw mules and packs.
And men also coming to wash.


These men were startled to see each other at the stream.

If the Aissors had only seen the Turks come through the gorge below them in the night, they could have crushed them with rocks.

The Turks had broken through.

The Aissors had no shells for their cannons.

We had attempted to take all our ammunition back to Russia, but we simply abandoned it en route-we no longer had any use for it.

The small amount left behind had been squandered by the ecstatic Aissors when they bombarded the Persian villages.

They couldn't retreat to Russia: the route had been cut. In fact, the Turks were already heading for Tiflis.
The Aissors decided to head for the English in Baghdad. They were joined by the Armenians, under the command of Stepanians-a Russian Armenian, Petersburg student, then a lieutenant and former chairman of the army committee.

In Persia he had quickly acquired the necessary savagery and turned out to be a born leader.

With him went his wife, a Russian med student. All told, 2,50,000 people set out from Urmia-men, women and children. A Russian detachment led the way; the Aissors who had previously served with the Russians brought up the rear; volunteers from among the Ashurite (mountain) Aissors guarded the flanks in the mountains.

Most of the people marched in the middle with the women and children.

There was no road. It was necessary to go along the Turkish front or, more exactly, through the Turkish and Kurdish mountains.

On all sides were Turks and Kurds and Persians-a hostile, 7 choppy sea of Moslems-with shots from behind the rocks and battles beneath the crags in gorges where swift rivers flow through the rocks and rocks fall from the crags, and crags, always crags- 7 the Persian crags like powerful waves, like the rock ripples of an
entire sea of rock.

The Aissors kept going because they're a great nation.

They left the gorges and proceeded through the mountains.

There was no water. They ate snow for twelve days.

The horses fell.

Then they took horses away from the old men and gave them to the young. It was no longer a question of saving individuals, but of the nation.

Then they abandoned the old women.

Then they began to abandon their children.

It took a month to reach English territory in Baghdad.

To be continued…


Assyrian Surfing Posts

Iraq's Ancient Past Gradually Disappearing
[ http://www.amida.com.au/features/genohistory.html ]

Pump Up the Volume

Massacre PIRMA Masculine Pirma d'Semele : The Semel Massacre
Genocide PRAM-YOOBALA Feminine PRAM-Yoobala d'1915: The 1915 Genocide



In honoring the memory of the Assyrian Martyrs, Zinda Magazine withholds the content of this week's BRAVO section.

On August 7, join other Assyrians around the world in remembering the hundreds of thousands of individuals who lost their lives since the Fall of Assyrian Empire to preserve the Assyrian national identity and Christian faith in Bet-Nahrain and the Middle East.

Zinda Magazine

Back to the Future

(2400 B.C.)

The earliest known map was found at Nuzi near today's Kirkuk in Iraq, dating from the dynasty of Sargon of Akkad.

Atour.com [history]

(A.D. 448)

"One of the most horrifying massacres occurred in the year 448, in modern day Kirkuk. The King Yasdegerd II began a wave of persecution of Assyrians (and Armenians, in Azerbaijan) throughout Persia. A massacre of ten bishops and 153,000 clergy and laity took place in several consecutive days of slaughter on the mound of Karka d'Bait Sluk (Kirkuk). Local tradition still asserts that the red gravel of the hillock was stained that color by the martyrs' blood, and the martyrium built over the bodies remains to this day… The place where this massacre occurred, to this day, bears the name of the Persian executioner, who was led by the sight of the endurance and faith of the people he was butchering to believe that their faith must truly be from God, and who joined them in their confession, and fate -- Tamasgerd was baptized in his own blood."

Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church, Wigram

This Week In History

August 4-11, 1933

"The Assyrian population of the village of Simel was indiscriminately massacred; men women, and children alike. In one room alone, 81 Assyrians from Baz were barbarously massacred. Priests were tortured and their bodies mutilated. Girls were raped and women violated and made to march naked before the Arab army commanders. Holy books were used as fuel for burning girls. Children were run over by military cars. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were flung in the air and pierced on to the points of bayonets. In Dohuk 600 Assyrians were killed."

The Tragedy of the Assyrians, Stafford


Calendar of Events


 Share your local events with Zinda readers.    Email us or send fax to:  408-918-9201


Dance Party



August 7

A day to commemorate the Assyrian martyrs throughout history.

August 7

Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) Australian Chapter in collaboration with the Assyrian Australian Academic Society, the Assyrian Australian National Federation and the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East, commemorate the Assyrian Martyrs Day.

6:30 PM
Edessa Reception Hall - St Hurmizd's Cathedral 
5-9 Greenfield Road, Greenfield Park. Sydney

August 9

An Assyria Youth Initiative
Spencer St. Fairfield NSW
4:00-7:30 PM

Drama "Smeleh" and other youth activities.
-UNNSW Representative on Genocide
-Amnesty International NSW branch Mr Anton Boski on latest human rights report

Collect your free badge from the Assyria Youth Association members in your area and please wear it throughout the week 6th Aug to 12th Aug 2001

For more information e-mail us on assyria_youth@hotmail.com

August 12

University of Chicago's Oriental Institute
Breasted Hall
1:30 PM
Free Admission

August 17

Presented by the Assyrian Eagles Basketball & Soccer Teams of Bay Area
Introducing new singing sensations:  Ninev & Nina

Gyros/Shawurma provided by George's Catering

7:00 PM
Assyrian Church of the East Hall (Awana)

680 Minnesota Avenue, San Jose

Donation:  $20.00
Proceeds from the raffle tickets to benefit Assyrian Aid Society of San Jose

For Tickets & Infor contact:
Nora     408-927-7376

Yousif   408-261-9908

Fred      408-885-1500

Ninev    408-655-0245

Ghanim 408-243-6033

August 28 - Sept 3

September 19

The Zi-Pang Trio
The Kufa Gallery
26 Westbourne Grove

Entrance Free
Contact  fran@hazelton.greatxscape.net

November 8 thru
March 17, 2002

Revealing Agatha Christie the archaeologist and how her discoveries in the Near East influenced her detective writing. 

The hitherto unknown interests and talents of the great crime writer are told through archaeological finds from the sites on which she worked with her husband Max Mallowan at Ur, Nineveh and Nimrud. Important objects from these sites in the Museum's collections are combined with archives, photographs, and films made by Agatha Christie herself. 

Personal memorabilia and souvenirs of travel in a more leisurely age are only some of the exhibits which range from first editions of those novels inspired by her other life to a sleeping compartment from the Orient Express, from a lethal 1930s hypodermic syringe to a priceless first millennium ivory of a man being mauled to death 

Admissions £7, Concessions £3.50

West Wing Exhibition Gallery Room 28

November 17-20


Middle East Studies Association of North America Panel
"The Assyrians of Iran - From Contributions to Diaspora"
co-sponsored by the Assyrian Academic Society
& the Society for Iranian Studies

Hyatt Regency Hotel, San Francisco

Dr. Arian Ishaya - Urmia to Baquba: From the Cradle of Water to Wilderness 
Dr. Eden Naby -: Zahrira d Bahra - The First Newspaper in Iran 
Dr. K. Shakeri - Living in Purgatory: The Assyrians of Iran in the Twentieth Century 
Mr. Ronald Thomaszadeh - Iranian Assyrians in the Azarbaijan Crisis of 1945-46 
Discussant:   Prof. Houshang Chahabi - political science - Boston University 

Zinda Article:  CLICK HERE
For more information CLICK HERE

November 21-23

Sponsored by the British School of Archaeology in Iraq
British Museum's Clore Centre
Gt Russell St WC1

Cost To Be Determined

Contact Dept of Ancient Near East 020 7323 8315
or email:  TheBSAI@aol.com, tel 01440 785244.

Coincides with Ancient Near East week at the British Museum: 
"Whodunnit in Assyria. For full details contact: Sam Moorhead, Education
Department, The British Museum, London WC1B 3DG, tel. 020-7323-8432

November 24

Sponsored by Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS)
Five Lectures on the Origins of Syriac Christianity
Syriac hymns by two Church Choruses
Middle Eastern Food
University of Toronto
More information to be provided in the upcoming issues

Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Ninous Bebla Bila


ZINDA Magazine is published weekly.  Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of  the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals.  ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium.  All letters and messages  require the name(s) of sender and/or author.  All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s).    Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news.  To subscribe, send e-mail to:  z_info@zindamagazine.com.

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